NATIONAL AWARD: Baghdad, Iraq
Even in war-torn Iraq, volunteers make a difference.
U.S. soldiers in Baghdad have a rule: Don't pick up garbage you haven't dropped, because it could hide an explosive. That leaves many neighborhoods strewn with trash.
Enter Capt. Candace Hurley, 36, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. On Make A Difference Day, she commandeered bomb-sniffing dogs to organize a street cleanup where 50 volunteers and an Iraqi family toiled in nearly 100-degree heat to remove five truckloads of trash, weeds and crumbled concrete. "It was good for morale," says Gulf Region Division Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh, 50, who spent his 27th wedding anniversary working on the project.
"Every year, I participate in Make A Difference Day," Hurley says, "so I figured just because I am deployed, that shouldn't stop me." By the next Make A Difference Day, she expects to be at a new post in South Carolina with husband Neil and their kids, ages 13, 11, 9 and 3. "Once we've settled in, we will start looking for ways to contribute."
$10,000 Make A Difference Day grant donated by Paul Newman benefits the American Red Cross and National Military Family Association via Global Impact, Alexandria, Va.